Lumber Liquidators Sentenced, Fined $13 Million For Importing Illegal Timber

Author(s)

Emily Kaldjian

The United States’ largest hardwood flooring retailer was sentenced on February 1, 2016 after pleading guilty in October to importing illegally harvested timber from areas including forests in the Russian Far East. Lumber Liquidators will pay $7.8 million in criminal fines, $1.23 million in community service payments and will forfeit nearly $1 million in assets for importing illegally sourced hardwood flooring. The company will also pay more than $3.15 million in cash through a related civil forfeiture and also agreed to a five-year probation period.

 

In 2008, Lumber Liquidators began importing millions of square feet of solid oak flooring from a manufacturer that freely described its own illegal logging practices to an environmental activist posing as a potential buyer and that buys wood from suppliers that have come under scrutiny by Russian authorities for illegal logging in one of the most biologically diverse and most threatened temperate forests in the world. Lumber Liquidators sourced hardwood flooring in China from illegally cut Mongolian oak trees in Russia, which form the habitat and feed the prey of endangered Siberian tigers and Amur leopards, according to the Department of Justice.

 

In October, Lumber Liquidators pled guilty to a felony charge of entry of goods by means of false statements (smuggling) and four misdemeanor violations under the U.S. Lacey Act, a conservation law that makes it a crime to import wildlife taken in violation of United States or foreign laws. The Lacey Act, a law aimed at banning the illegal trade in wildlife, was amended in 2008 to apply to plants as well, including illegally sourced wood and paper products. This is the largest penalty that has ever been ascribed by the Department of Justice for violation of the Lacey Act.